The Aftermath

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Further Newspaper Coverage

The story of the loss of Athenia was one that would not go away but by 8 September 1939 the coverage of the sinking started to reduce.

8 September 1939

Images 1 and 2 are from page 3 of The Times on 8 September. It reports a visit to Glasgow by the son of the American Ambassador to 'look after the interests of the American survivors of the Athenia disaster'. The Ambassador was Joseph P. Kennedy and the son in question was John Fitzgerald Kennedy the future US president. [1]

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Note: JFK came to England in 1938 to work with his father in the American Embassy. In 1939 he embarked on a tour of Europe, Russia and the Middle East. His last visits were to Czechoslovakia and Germany before arriving back in London on 1 September 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland. He was in the House of Commons on 3 September 1939 to hear speeches supporting the UK declaration of war with Germany and, after helping the American victims of the sinking of Athenia, he returned to the US by aeroplane.


Image 3 is from page 3 of The Times on 8 September reports the return of Captain Cook and 82 members of Athenia’s crew to Glasgow after their landing at Galway. [1]

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Image 4 is from page 3 of The Times on 8 September and reports on demands being made to Mr J.F. Kennedy by US survivors for a convoy to escort them back to the US. He is non-committal but promises to brief his father. [1]

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Image 5 is from page 3 of The Times on 8 September and revises the estimated death toll to 128. [1]

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Images 6 and 7 are from page 4 of The Times on 8 September and describe the proposed counter-measures which include the use of convoys. There are some reassuring noises about the Navy bringing the situation under control. [1]

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9 September 1939

A full week after the sinking, The Times still carried four articles on the loss of Athenia - the repercussions of this event were still reverberating around the world.

Images 8 to 10 are from page 10 of The Times on 9 September, noting the imminent publication of the official US reports and leak some of the expected content. [1]

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Images 11 and 12 are from page 10 of The Times on 9 September and claim that Germany is going to repeat the submarine operations of WW1 with a “sink merchant ships on sight” policy. It also rather optimistically predicts that the effects of the German campaign will reduce when the convoy system is fully implemented. [1]

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On 9 September the first reports with definite information about survivors was published.


Images 13 and 14 are from page 10 of The Times on 9 September and reports the names of survivors that were rescued by the City of Flint. [1]

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Image 15 is from page 10 of The Times on 9 September and and reports on arrangements made for Canadian survivors. [1]

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11 September 1939

Image 16 is from page 10 of The Times on 11 September and confirms the arrival in Glasgow of the survivors landed at Galway. [1]

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Image 17 is from page 10 of The Times on 11 September and reports the death of a child who survived the sinking. It also mentions that liners will no longer be scheduled or information posted about arrivals and departures. [1]

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14 September 1939

Image 18 is from page 4 of The Times on 14 September and report the arrival of a chartered liner to repatriate the 250 US survivors of the Athenia sinking. [1]

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Image 19 is from The Ormskirk Advertiser on 14 September. At this point there still seemed to be some hope that the wife of Mr. Quine might be alive. Sadly this was not the case. [4]

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15 September 1939

Images 20 and 21 are from page 7 of The Times on 15 September, and report the arrival of survivors taken on board City of Flint at Halifax Nova Scotia. [1]

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19 September 1939

Image 22 is from page 7 of The Times on 15 September, and reports that 28 US National are not accounted for. [1]

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20 September 1939

Image 23 is from page 10 of The Times on 20 September, and reports the departure of Orizaba with the US survivors and other passengers. [1]

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23 September 1939

Image 24 is from page 8 of The Times on 23 September, and reports that Orizaba had departed Galway after picking up more US survivors and other passengers. [1]

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28 September 1939

Image 25 is from page 10 of The Times on 28 September, and provides a breakdown of the nationalities of those aboard Athenia when she was sunk. [1]

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Passenger Casualties

10 October 1939

After a gap in coverage in The Times, on 10 October it provides a list of those reported missing. I have transcribed the names into a table below the article to enable searching as this cannot be done with the image files.

Images 26 to 28 are from page 10 of The Times on 10 October 1939. [1]

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Table of Passengers posted as missing:


Name/Other information Nationality Last Abode
William Allan British Northfield, Queen Street, Alloa
Georgina Allan, Age 51, Domestic British West Croydon
Harriet Barrington, Age 52, Housewife British Sandfield Road, Gateacre, Liverpool
John Bernard, Age 23, Student U.S
Peter Birchall, Age 49, Librarian US Hawberry Street Bedford
Nancy Bishop, Age 36, Housewife British C/O T. Eaton Company, Regent Street London
Frederick Blair, Age 60, Musician, born Chatham Ontario British Savoy Court Hotel, Portman Square, London
Herbert Bown, Age 79, Retired, born Birmingham England U.S. Faireview Road, Dartmouth
Henry Braunschneiger, Age 33, Lawyer German C/O Cunard White Star, Liverpool
Elizabeth Brookes, Age 60, Widow British C/O Scott, Highholm Street, Port Glasgow
William Brown, Age 60, Teacher, born Scotland U.S C/O McMorland, Belmont, Barrhill Road, Gourock
Sarah Burdett, Age 51, Housewife U.S. Broughton Astley, Nr Leicester
Helen Burrows, Age 50, Housewife British C/O Coleman, York Lodge, Antrim
E. Campbell, Age 37, Teacher U.S. Ederston Road, Peebles
Helen Chalmers, Age 46, Table Maid British Restalrig Circus, Edinburgh
Isabella Chalmers, Age 51, Nurse British Restalrig Circus, Edinburgh
Ina May Duncan, Age 30, Nurse British C/O Davidson, Craighill Terrace, Edinburgh
Arthur Fisher, Age 16 U.S C/O R. Hancock, Tunbridge Wells
Mrs. A.B. Fletcher British Kildare Terrace, Bayswater, London
Helen Flower, Age 45, Housewife British Cromer Villas Road, Wandsworth, London
Alexandrina Forbes, Age 52, Housewife British Frederick Street, Aberdeen
Muriel Fraser, Age 54, Secretary British Cockspur Street, London
Anna Gacii (possibly Gach), Age 13, Schoolgirl Polish
Cora Gilroy, Age 41, Housewife U.S Lockend Road, Leith
John Gilroy, Age 7, born Detroit Michigan U.S Lockend Road, Leith
Martha Goddard, Age 52, Housewife British Oldham Road, Manchester
Sarah Goodman, Age 31, Secretary British Northfield Road, London N
Nellie Graham, Age 34, Housewife British Collier Street, Carnoustie
George Graham, Age 2½ British Collier Street, Carnoustie
Helen Hannah, Age 37, Housewife U.S Berebriggs, Strathaven
Sara B. Harper, Age 66, Housewife N/K Belfast
Robert Harper (husband) N/K Willowholme Drive, Belfast
Ellen Harrington, Age 63, Housewife U.S C/O Cunard Whte Star Limited, Liverpool
Robert Harris, Age 21 U.S York Buildings, Adelphi, London
James Haslet, Age 41, Butler British Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire
Margaret Haslet, Age 38, Housemaid British Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire
Albert Hart, Age 60, Accountant British C/O Miss A Hart, University Avenue, Belfast
Margaret Hayworth, Age 9, Schoolgirl, born Hamilton Ontario British Primrose Hill Drive, Aberdeen
Margaret Hogg, age 52, Housewife British C/O Tough, Dundee Terrace, Edinburgh
Mary Hodge, Age 49, Widow British C/O Thos. Cook and Sons, Glasgow
Jean Gwen Holmes, Age 6, Schoolgirl, born Winnepeg British Inverskip Street, Greenock
Ellen Howland, Age 65 U.S C/O Raymond Whitcombe and Co, London SW
Dorothy Hutchings, Age 39, Teacher British Peel Street Glasgow
George Innes, Age 41, Advertising Executive British C/O Stewart, Glenmackie Terrace, Dundee
Matilda Jacobs, Age 24, Housewife British English Street, Shieldmuir, Wishaw
Emily James, Age 38 British C/O E. Pullen, Preston Park Avenue, Brighton
Lottie Kunstlicher, Interpreter German Great Russell Street, London
Eudokia Kucharczuk, Age 40, Housewife Polish
Aleksandra Kucharczuk, Age 8 Polish
Jakeb Kucharczuk, Age 2 Polish
Stefan Kucharczuk, Age 15 Polish
Margaret Lennon, Age 57, Housewife British Newall Terrace, Dumfries
Catherine Leslie, Age 69, Widow British C/O Preshaw, Chancellor Street, Glasgow
Artur Lourie, Age 35, Merchant Polish C/O Regent Street London
Edith Lustig, Age 27, Housewife German C/O Great Russell Street, London
Charles Mailer, Age 69 British Wilson Street, Craigie, Perth
Lucy Marston, Age 53, Housewife British Ely View, Houghton Road, St Ives
Thornton Mustard, Age 47 British Dudley Arms Hotel, Dudley
Sophie McDonald, Age 78 British C/O Dawson, Sankey Street, Warrington
Bridget McErlean, Age 38, Domestic U.S Moneystaghan, Portglenone, Co. Antrim
Agnes McFarlane, Age 43, Housewife British Curwood Street, Greenock
Gladys McFarlane, Age 3, born Verdun P.Q. British Curwood Street, Greenock
Ray McFarlane, Age 19, Student U.S C/O Macfarlane, Cathkin Avenue, Rutherglen
Margaret McGorty, Age 7 U.S Milltown Birches, Portadown, Co. Armagh
Jean C McNeish, Age 69, Widow British Glebe Road, Letchworth, Herts or Clochview, Kirn
Alexander Nicol, Age 40, Receiving Clerk U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh
Edith Nicol, Age 33, Housewife U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh
Marion Nicol, Age 9, born Lawrence Mass U.S Easter Drylaw View, Edinburgh
Alexander Park, Age 49 U.S C/O McAleer, Omagh, Co.Tyrone
Annie Quine, Age 57, Housewife U.S Marsh Lane, Halsall
Nancy Redgers, Age 16, British Tredegar Street, Risca, Mon
Gertrude Reed, Age 58, Housewife U.S C/O Stewart, Stubbs Road, Chertsey
Alice Robinson, Age 44, Housewife U.S C/O Mr Home, Little King Street, Edinburgh
Mary Scott, Age 31, Housekeeper British C/O Mr J Scott, James Street, Edinburgh
Jessie Sharp, Age 45, Housewife British C/O Williamson Limited, Frederick Street Edinburgh
Fejga Spring, Age 32 Polish
Emma Steele, Age 49, Librarian British C/O Canada House London
Anna Stewart British
F. Stotland, Age 13 Stateless
Rebekka Stotland Stateless
Fred Tinney, Age 30 U.S C/O Robinson, Graham Street, Johnstone
Madeleine Tinney, Age 27, Housewife U.S C/O Robinson, Graham Street, Johnstone
Hariet Tolley, Age 74 British Tyran Avenue, Llancily
Harry Truss, Age 54 British Fleet, Holbeach
Ethel Truss, Age 52, Housewife British Fleet, Holbeach
A.H.Vincent, Age 7 British C/O Thomas Cook and Son Newcastle
Sara Warenreich, Age 39, Cook, born Vienna U.S c/o Kingsley, Miens Road Blackburn
Anne Waterman, Age 52, British C/O C.W.S. Limited, London
Fred Weir, Age 61, British C/O Watson, Lochend Road, Leith
Matilda Wilkes, Housewife U.S C/O American Express Company, Glasgow
Jonathan Wilkes, Age 8 U.S C/O American Express Company, Glasgow
David Wright, Age 63, Laundry Manager U.S Killshannagh, Co. Tyrone
Jessie Young British Wilson Street, Craigie, Perth


Robert Shenton Harris

I am grateful to Bill Zimmerman of Norfolk Virginia who contacted me about one of the lost passengers, Robert Shenton Harris from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Robert was an American student returning home via Canada when Athenia was lost. He may well be one of the first US Casualties of the war.

Image 29 shows the memorial to Robert Shenton Harris at Fredericksburg Virginia. [3]

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Annie Quine

I am grateful to Paul Charlesworth who contacted me after coming across the gravestone  of Annie Quine at Halsall in Lancashire and located the cuttings from the Ormskirk Advertiser shown on previous pages.

Images 30 and 31 show the memorial to Annie Quine. [5]

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14 October 1939

Image 32 is from page 5 of The Times on 14 October and reports the gratitude of survivors for the hospitality afforded to them. [1]

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17 October 1939

Image 33 is from page 8 of The Times on 17 October and reports a payment made towards the cost of returning survivors to the US by Donaldson Atlantic Lines. [1]

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23 October 1939

Images 34 and 35 are from page 7 of The Times on 23 October and report an accusation made by Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment, that Churchill was to blame for the sinking which he says was done by three British Destroyers. [1]

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On the same day, the German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, a mouthpiece of the Nazi regime, carried the following headline on its front page:


Churchill Sank the Athenia

Page 3 of the same edition carried a picture of Athenia and the following article:

The above picture shows the proud 'Athenia', the ocean giant, which was sunk by Churchill's crime. One can clearly see the big radio equipment on board the ship. But nowhere was an SOS heard from the ship. Why was the 'Athenia' silent? Because her captain was not allowed to tell the world anything. He very prudently refrained from telling the world that Winston Churchill attempted to sink the ship, through the explosion of an infernal machine. He knew it well, but he had to keep silent.

Nearly fifteen hundred people would have lost their lives if Churchill's original plan had resulted as the criminal wanted. Yes, he longingly hoped that the one hundred Americans on board the ship would find death in the waves so that the anger of the American people, who were deceived by him, should be directed against Germany as the presumed author of the deed. It was fortunate that the majority escaped the fate intended for them by Churchill.

Our picture on the right shows two wounded passengers. They were rescued by the freighter, 'City of Flint', and as can be seen here, turned over to the American coast guard boat 'Gibb' for further medical treatment. They are an unspoken accusation against the criminal Churchill. Both they and the shades of those who lost their lives call him before the Tribunal of the world and ask the British people, 'How long will the office, one of the richest in tradition known to Britain's history, be held by a murderer?'"


18 November 1939

Image 36 is from page 4 of The Times on 18 November and is a letter to the editor about the assistance given to survivors by the owner of Southern Cross. [1]

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3 January 1940

Images 37 and 38 are from page 8 of The Times of 3 January 1940 and report awards made to members of the crew: [1]
- An OBE to the Chief Officer Barnett Mackenzie Copeland for his efforts in organising the loading of passengers into lifeboats and going back to the stricken ship to rescue an injured passenger who had been left behind
- A BEM to Boatswain William Harvey who also played a vital role in the same tasks .

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3 February 1940

In February 1940 The Times makes brief mention of one of the lifeboats from Athenia being washed ashore in Lerwick in Shetland. After this date there are numerous press references to the sinking of Athenia but they do not add any new information so have been omitted. In mentioning some new action by the Germans, they hark back to the sinking of Athenia with remarks similar to “….like when the Athenia was torpedoed”. The next press item of real interest does not appear until the trials of German War Criminals at Nuremburg.



Merchant Navy Casualties

Apart from the passengers, 18 Merchant Navy seamen were killed in the incident as detailed in the Roll of Honour below.


Roll of Honour

The table below lists the members of the Merchant Navy who died as a result of the sinking of Athenia. Information is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website External Ref. #10.

Surname Forenames Description Other Information
Carlin James Assistant Steward Age 56
Donnelly Ian Assistant Steward Age 26
Donnelly John Assistant Steward Age 23
Elder James Donkeyman Age 45, Husband of Mary Elder of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire
Fordyce Charles Watchman Age 65, Son of George and Jessie Fordyce, husband of Mary Penelope Fordyce
Gallagher Hugh Greaser Age 23, Son of Thomas Gallagher and of Isabel Gallagher of Glasgow
Harrower Alison Stewardess Age 41, Daughter of William and Hannah Foster Denny Harrower
Hogg John Assistant Steward Age 51, Husband of Sarah A. Hogg of Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Johnston Margaret Stewardess Age 41, Daughter of James and Christina Johnson of Glasgow
Kent John Assistant Steward Age 50, Husband of Jessie Darroch Kent of Bridgeton Glasgow
Lawler Jessie Stewardess Age 60, Wife of Patrick Lawler of Sholing Southampton
McDermott Michael J Assistant Steward Age 33
McJarrow John Printer Age 39
McKeown John Steward Age 47, Husband of M.E.McKeown of Dunoon Artyllshire
Marshall James Bellboy Age 15
Morrison David Steward Age 32
Provan David Barber Age 65, Son of Alec and Margaret Provan, Husband of Martha Provan of Glasgow
Thomson Samuel Assistant Steward Age 45, Husband of Julia McCafferty Thomson of Glasgow

The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill

Images 39 and 40 show the panels commemorating their loss on the Merchant Navy memorial at Tower Hill. [2]

Tower Hill
Tower Hill

Tower Hill


Loss of Athenia - The Truth at Last

Click the link below for details about the truth of what happened to Athenia as it emerged during the Nuremberg Trials.

Loss of Athenia - Truth at Last


Image Credits

  1. By courtesy of The Times archive.
  2. From the Benjidog Tower Hill Memorial website.
  3. By courtesy of Bill Zimmerman
  4. By courtesy of The Ormskirk Advertiser
  5. By courtesy of Paul Charlesworth